The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the interconnected, networked nature of risks which impact upon the complexity, range and cost of business disruptions. In a global economy, no one is fully immune to disruption, as events in one part of the world have had devastating effects upon another.
Over the last few months, businesses were forced to execute their crisis management plans with varying degrees of success. Most are now emerging from crisis mode, have entered a period of stabilisation and are starting to think about recovery. It is likely that the next few months will continue to challenge businesses and provide a further examination of overall business and operational resilience. Ensuring adequate resilience should be a key consideration within your road map to recovery.
In many organisations, crisis management plans have been stressed beyond what they were expected to do. Business continuity practitioners have had to improvise and adapt their strategies to deal with the prevailing stressors as the crisis continues. They are reacting, adapting and responding to the challenges that are arising, including activating their incident management and crisis teams, looking for sustainability and resilience in their business plans, and conducting scenario analysis and financial modelling. What can you do now as we look ahead to the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on your business?
Consider what will happen not just today but tomorrow and beyond.
Returning to a "normal environment" is likely to be met with both scepticism and uncertainty. Stakeholders will seek assurance that the organisation is both resilient and ready. It is likely that organisations will face multiple return-to-work phases, as restrictions are modified with attendant impacts on both the volume and the nature of work carried out. Senior-level oversight and a unified response among cross-functional teams will be essential to ensuring the right outcomes and establishing the appropriate tone. Everyone, from leadership down, should know who is doing what. Train the people involved in executing the plan to be sure they are moving toward a common purpose and identify the appropriate return-to-work triggers. Identify and work through the scenarios, with a view to ensuring plans are in place to cover all options. Your people and your stakeholders need to know you have a recovery plan, and what you are working toward. Reassurance and reference to your organisations' resilience will be helpful.
Although the current situation is unprecedented, you should adapt your strategy to meet the current challenges you're facing. Strategy was set in a pre-COVID-19 environment and should be revisited with an additional lens of what actions are required to succeed through uncertainty. As a result your risk profile and appetite are likely to have changed. Consider:
Does your IT infrastructure have the scope to continue to support extended remote working plans, with the appropriate safeguards against cyberthreats?
Can you proactively identify and manage the new risks and opportunities that arise and recognise how previously existing ones have changed, all with a focus on the organisation's long-term success?
How resilient were your third-party vendors and how effective have they been during this period?
How resilient have your teams been, particularly your crisis response teams who are likely to have been operating at high intensity for an extended period?
Have you captured the lessons learned effectively from the current situation and updated existing continuity and crisis response plans? Were your people, plans and governance frameworks fit for purpose.
Being resilient as an organisation means being able to absorb and adapt to survive and prosper. Even in this period of uncertainty there are many known activities that can be undertaken now for three months time. Taking measures now will result in resilience becoming a real-life capability rather than an unfamiliar concept associated with stress and only seen during a crisis. Ask yourself, is your organisational culture receptive to embedding resilience into everyday practice? If not, why not?
We have extensive experience helping organisations across a range of industries in designing, building and assessing the appropriate culture, processes, controls and tools for an effective resilience programme.